Why Manufacturers Require a Detailed Sales Technology Road Map
Boost Efficiency & Effectiveness in Your Manufacturing Firm
4 Steps to Create a Successful, Efficient Manufacturing Ecosystem
Manufacturing is an industry with incredible growth potential, and senior leadership in this sector is quickly realizing the tremendous opportunities available to those who harness sales technology solutions. Those who are already effectively implementing their plans are capitalizing on the hundreds of millions of dollars of available revenue in this vertical.
Here’s how to put your manufacturing firm on that path and expedite your success.
Creating an Ecosystem for Success
When it comes to sales technology solutions, a lot of companies stumble because they (understandably) think it’s all about the tech. The technology itself is actually only half the puzzle. The other half is the holistic ecosystem into which that technology will be integrated.
Most companies understand that implementing the wrong tech leads to poor results. What fewer companies conceptualize is that even integrating the right tech into the wrong system also leads to poor adoption and results.
Where manufacturers start to see dramatic gains with their sales technology selections is when they have that documented, strategic, holistic system. This allows them to be proactive rather than reactive, and it lays the groundwork for adaptable, nimble processes that can change as the buying landscape evolves.
Achieving this kind of company-wide system is a longer-term vision, but it yields the best chance at continued, predictable, repeatable success. Manufacturers, therefore, should aim not to identify one great sales technology solution but to implement the entire shift in mind-set that allows for effective use of sales technology—regardless of external circumstances.
Given the potential upside, how do manufacturers achieve that kind of ecosystem?
4 Steps to Create an Integrated, Strategic Sales Technology Roadmap in Your Manufacturing Firm
1. Stakeholder Analysis and Goal Identification
Think about everyone who will be affected—directly or indirectly—by the integration of the sales technology. Identify them, and then interview them. Find out about their challenges and their goals. Give them a voice in this sales tech selection process. At the end of this, no one in your organization should be able to say, “Wait. You didn’t think about me.”
This information-gathering will not only allow you to have a more accurate picture of what your goals should be, but it will greatly enhance buy-in and adoption because people will feel a sense of personal ownership in the process. You’ve followed the right steps and done the right things to foster an environment that promotes adoption.
2. Technology Audit
After you know and understand your relevant stakeholders, conduct a technology audit to gain visibility into the existing technology your manufacturing firm uses. Whether you’re using advanced tech or you’re using basic spreadsheets, gather the technologies, analytics, and data that are already supporting your sales operations. Having these foundational elements in place will allow you to create an effective, strategic map for the future.
3. Capabilities Audit
The next step is a capabilities audit. This assesses your existing ability and infrastructure to implement sales tech. It will illuminate where gaps exist, and it will help you identify what can be improved, what’s working, and what’s broken.
For many pieces of sales tech, they require a foundational element, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Without that piece, you either can’t use the tech outright, or the tech is significantly hindered. In your capabilities audit, make sure to determine if you can successfully leverage these resources. If you don’t have those pieces in place yet, that’s a place to start.
4. Technology Selection
Many manufacturers are surprised that the actual technology selection comes so late in this process, but it’s essential to have those working components in place first. When those systems and strategies are implemented currently, you create an environment where you can have success with the technology.
When it comes to selecting your sales tech stack, frequently reference your audits of stakeholders, technology, and capabilities. Always be thinking about how you can meet those established goals, alleviate the challenges of your stakeholders, and improve your bottom line. When you consider tech selection from this perspective, you’re much more likely to obtain long-term buy-in and adoption, as well as significant return on your investment.
Maximizing Efficiency and Effectiveness with the Sales Technology Stack
Once you’ve implemented the strategy that puts you in the best position for success, you can start to think through what sales technology makes sense for you. The challenge here is that there is no one-sizes-fits-all solution, even within the same vertical. What works for one manufacturing firm won’t be right for another.
Maybe you’re using spreadsheets. Maybe you’re using the most advanced data-capturing technology on the market. Depending on the needs and goals of the company, each of those tech solutions can be equally effective or ineffective. If all you need is a spreadsheet, there’s no reason to take on the expense of licensing and training your team on a new piece of sales technology. If your company is larger, and tracking data on spreadsheets is cumbersome and ineffective, the time-saving benefits of automation and greater visibility into your data could more than pay for the licensing fees. It always depends on you, your team, and your goals.
When creating your systems and processes, just keep your ability to scale in mind. You want a basic framework that can easily adapt as your situation changes with the buying landscape.
Managing Acquisitions in the Manufacturing Sector
While mergers and acquisitions in the manufacturing space took a hit in 2020, they are expected to rebound as the global economy and pandemic-related uncertainty settle. The manufacturing companies seeing significant growth right now are often accomplishing this through the acquisition of competition. Yes, the acquisition of a company has the potential for a tremendous financial upside, but manufacturers also need to be aware that it involves acquiring everything: existing technology licenses, salespeople, and processes.
If your manufacturing firm doesn’t have those foundational strategies and systems in place, successfully integrating all those solutions and moving pieces can be incredibly difficult.
When formulating businesses operation processes, manufacturers should always lead with that foundational strategy and the goal of aligning all individuals and departments. When you have a tested and successful adoption plan in place, scaling doesn’t necessitate reinventing the wheel; it’s about plugging in the relevant pieces to your established framework. When you have that, you can help ensure you maximize the benefit of a merger or acquisition.
Putting the Pieces Together for Your Manufacturing Firm
Successful sales technology selection hinges on so much more than just the sales tech. It’s about the attitude toward stakeholders. It’s about the visibility you have into your existing tech, goals, and capabilities. It’s about how integrated and cross-functional your departments are. To gain even greater clarity on how manufacturers can digitally enable their sellers, join our free webinar. It’s March 11 at noon (EST), and it will feature a panel of industry-leading voices and experts.
If you’re ready to take the next significant step in your manufacturing business but aren’t sure where to start, check out our consulting services. With our proprietary methodology, we can help you build the ecosystem and framework that deliver results. Contact us today for a personalized discussion about increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your team.